A car is not only a machine of convenience that gets you from point A to point B, but if it is handled improperly, a car can become a weapon of destruction. With defensive driving, you anticipate other drivers’ moves and expected road conditions so you can respond appropriately. Employing defensive driving techniques helps guarantee your safety on the road and protects you from the possible driving deficiencies of other drivers on the road.
Defensive drivers are constantly aware of their surroundings on the road. Eliminate the potential distractions of cell phones, loud music and passengers who may distract you while on the road. Keep your eyes on the road at all times, and be on the lookout for obstacles and moving traffic down the road. Continuously move your eyes to check your rear-view mirror, side mirrors and side windows for nearby vehicles that may enter into your lane.
Good defensive drivers are comfortable with their surroundings and comfortable in their cars. Before heading out on a trip, memorize the driving directions, or enter your route into the vehicle GPS system so you will not lose focus by making a wrong turn or losing your bearings. Adjust the car seat, steering wheel and mirrors so you are comfortable, and you can see the road without obstruction. Familiarize yourself with the car controls if necessary, so you can use the turn signals, headlights and other controls without difficulty.
Maintain a safe driving distance with the three- to four-second rule. Select a fixed point on the road such as a road sign, tree or overpass. After the car in front of you passes the object, at least three seconds should elapse before your vehicle passes the object. Wet or icy road conditions require an extended driving distance, so follow an eight- to ten-second rule instead. Avoid following other cars too closely, and keep open spaces in parallel lanes in case you need to change lanes quickly to avoid swerving vehicles.
Obey the Laws
Traffic safety laws are designed to protect motorists on the road. Adhere to all posted speed limits, and observe warnings about current road conditions and traffic patterns. Wear your seat belt to protect you in the event of a collision or accident, and bring your car in for scheduled maintenance to keep the brake systems and vehicle safety mechanisms in good working order.